ASTM International, the organization that helps establish voluntary safety standards for products, including kids' toys, has launched a task force to look into the safety of water bead toys.
It also comes after several parents have spoken out about injuries their children suffered after swallowing water beads, most recently a mom of three from Iowa.
Hannah Rief of Hastings, Iowa, said she knew something was wrong when her 14-month-old daughter Letty began experiencing extreme vomiting earlier this month.
Rief, whose older children are ages 8 and 3, said she took her daughter twice to the local emergency room, and on the second visit doctors made the call to transfer Letty by ambulance to a nearby children's hospital.
At the children's hospital, doctors still struggled to determine what was wrong with Letty, according to Rief. She said she wondered if Letty had swallowed something, even though she said she doesn't keep small items in the house because of her daughter's age.
Rief added that doctors thought Letty had an obstruction in her stomach, but not necessarily from a foreign object.
"There was a lot of uncertainty with it and I think that was the scariest part," Rief told "Good Morning America." "She was just laying there, lifeless, just blinking, and finally the surgeon came in and said, 'We're not going to wait any longer. We're going to go in there and figure out what this is.'"
While in surgery, doctors discovered a one-inch water bead lodged in Letty's small intestine.
Rief said her "stomach sank" when doctors told her what they'd found. She immediately thought back to two years prior, before Letty was even born, when her oldest child, then 6, was gifted a water bead toy for her birthday.
While playing with the toy in the family's playroom, the water beads spilled all over the floor, according to Rief.
"I let them dry out and then I vacuumed them, and I vacuumed them over and over and over ... and I really thought that I got all of them," Rief said. "But two years later, Letty is playing in there and she must have found one in the carpet and she swallowed it."
Rief said that while she thought Letty may have swallowed something that was making her sick, she never thought about a water bead because she didn't think any were in her home.
She said doctors struggled to identify what the obstruction was from on an X-ray or ultrasound because the fluid-filled water bead appeared as the same color as Letty's intestines.
"That really delayed the diagnosis and the treatment," Rief said. "I was really worried about a rupture, and if it ruptured, that she would turn septic."
Rief said doctors were able to safely remove the water bead from Letty's stomach. After spending one week in the hospital, Letty is now home and expected to make a full recovery, according to Rief.
Mom calls for better safety warnings on water bead products
According to the National Poison Control Center, water beads are typically made of synthetic superabsorbent polymers and when exposed to water, can grow in size from the size of a marble to the size of a tennis ball.
While first designed as a product to help maintain soil moisture in plants, water beads are now used in baby diapers, incontinence products and menstrual pads to help absorb fluid, and are "marketed as children's toys or therapies for children with sensory processing or autism spectrum disorders," according the center.
If water beads are swallowed, they can expand in the body and cause life-threatening intestinal blockage, the center says.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission has issued warnings in the past on various water bead or water ball products, warning that they can expand inside a child's body and cause intestinal blockage and damage.
A spokesperson for the CPSC told "GMA" in a statement that caregivers should report any incidents with water bead products to SaferProducts.gov, a CPSC-run website where members of the public can find recall information, read consumer complaints and report safety issues with products.
"CPSC is aware of incidents with water beads. We are working with the voluntary standards community on the safety of water beads," the spokesperson said. "We are strongly encouraging parents and caregivers to report any incidents with this product to us at SaferProducts.gov."
A spokesperson for ASTM International, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, the voluntary standards development organization that launched the water bead safety task force, said the task force will determine whether to issue additional safety standards for water bead products.
"The group is meeting and will determine whether or not proposed revisions or new additions to the standard, F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, are necessary," the spokesperson said in a statement. "The ASTM F963 standard is a mandatory standard under U.S. law and is regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission."
Rief said that after her family's experience, she would like to see manufacturers of water bead products list the hazards more clearly on the product labeling.
"It said, 'Not for children under the age of 3. Choking hazard,'" Rief said of the warnings on the product her daughter received as a gift. "I read all that stuff, and nowhere did I ever think, can cause an intestinal blockage, can get lodged in your child's body, can cause emergency surgery."
She continued, "If I had read that, I wouldn't have even opened the package. It would have been right in the trash."
What caregivers need to know
The National Poison Control Center advises anyone who has swallowed a water bead or has a loved one who has done to reach out to Poison Control immediately by going to Poison.org online or calling 1-800-222-1222.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says warning signs for parents to look for include abdominal pain, constipation, drooling, vomiting, refusal to eat, wheezing and complaints of something stuck in the throat or chest.
The AAP also warns that children may place water beads in their ears, for which they say to also seek immediate treatment.
The CPSC also shared safety tips for water bead products, telling "GMA" that children should always be supervised when using the products.
In addition, the agency says water beads should be "kept away from young children," and medical attention should be sought immediately "if ingestion is suspected."